“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brown
DEVASTATION & DELAYS
I was all set to write this blog for weeks…and then life happened. Without getting into the rather distressing details, let’s just say that the universe threw a monkey wrench into my home life and many changes have occurred. Schedules are different. Budgets have been cut. Stress has been increased. And life as I knew it has shifted.
Please know that I’m ok…I will be ok. And so will my family. As a matter of fact, I see this all as an opportunity, despite how challenging it’s been and is going to be. (I’m not sure of much, but I’m sure of that.) I can see the good in the shift, and I am bound and determined for the end results to be good. But dealing with these changes creates additional emotional and energetic challenges and I acknowledge those as I try to find a “new normal”.
So what’s happened to my self-care? To be honest, it’s not unlike my Confessions blog post. I have slipped. It has lessened to a degree. And I can’t blame myself for it. When a crisis occurs, your time and ability to care for anyone, let alone yourself, decreases. And when a financial crisis occurs, your budget dictates a change in priorities as well.
I do celebrate the fact that I haven’t let it all go. It’s not like it was when I was a caregiver for my mom. I understand so much more now how necessary it is for me, but I’m still amazed at how quickly self-care becomes the first thing to go in a crisis.
Stepping back for a moment, I wonder how did caring for ourselves become selfish or a luxury? Why do so many women I talk to take issue with taking time for themselves? I know it’s a beautiful thing to give and I’ll be the first one to encourage you to do that. Nurturing others is one of the most amazing life experiences for both the one who is nurtured and the one nurturing. It’s part of our humanity and it’s held in high esteem for obvious reasons.
But there seems to be a misconception that the nurturing part must be all we do. Why?
It doesn’t make sense. Logically it would seem the more we give to others, the more we need to ensure we are cared for too. Yet for some reason, it’s rarely the case.
Instead we eschew our own care in an almost martyr-like way because we believe we must choose.
THE EMPTY CUP CONUNDRUM
Here’s the problem with the theory of choosing. If you do, you are destined for burnout. Guaranteed. My favorite saying: “you can’t fill anyone else’s cup if yours is empty”. This is absolute truth. Period. No question. No argument.
Ok, maybe you can do it…but tell me for how long? It’s like running a car out of gas. Actually, it’s worse. It’s like draining the oil and seeing how long you can go before the engine seizes.
What happens when an engine seizes? Can it be fixed? I’m not mechanic, but I know that’s not something you recover from most times. There are rare exceptions and consideration of how soon after seizing you STOPPED. But the point is, it’s a significant damage and so you are not only dealing with an inevitable breakdown, you’re dealing with the potential inability to come back from it. (And if you do, it’s significant time and money.)
“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” ~ Dalai Lama
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
My friend and colleague Leah Borski wrote an amazing article for Thrive Global about self-care (a topic she and I bond over constantly). She asks if we judge ourselves for needing and she connects the dots the same way I have…that it’s connected to “enough-ness”. Are we doing enough? Trying enough? Being enough? Are we enough?
I want you to read her article, but I’ll also clue you in on the answer and I don’t think I’m telling tales out of school.
The answer is YES. You are. You are ENOUGH.
So that means you’re deserving of care no matter what. This means you are deserving of care both during a crisis (when I think you especially need it) and also when everything is great and you don’t appear to “need” it.
You see, it’s not about whether you “need” it to bring yourself back into balance.
You are innately deserving of nurturing, compassion, and love at any point…plus it’s imperative when you’re a caregiver. As a vessel for nurturing, you absolutely must take care of you.
If service is key for you, then a dedicated self-care routine will make you that much better at what you do. Think about what you get done despite being exhausted, stressed, and suffering. Now imagine what you can give to the world when you are at your very best when you show yourself the same love and compassion you do others.
CREATING A SELF-CARE COMEBACK
Are you wanting to say “yes” to you more, but unsure how to make the shift? Here are some tips to help with the transition:
- When you decide to take better care of yourself, there may be backlash. Those around you might not be used to you taking this time and be resistant to change. You are teaching them what you want and need. Be patient yet firm and don’t allow their reactions to keep you from your plans.
- Start small and create habits just for you. Self-care doesn’t have to be long-term or complicated. As a matter of fact, starting smaller and simpler can be good to help you create a proper habit of it and allow those around you to get used to the concept.
- Understand that self-care isn’t always pampering. I highly recommend you include that, but it also means ensuring you are well fed and well-rested. It means investing in better quality food instead of eating your kids’ leftovers. It means finding ways to move your body safely and joyfully. It means you make doctor’s appointments for yourself too. It means putting yourself first. And that’s ok. (Actually it’s more than ok! It’s what I’m cheering you on to do!)
- When you start to question yourself or let self-care slide (and unfortunately, it happens) do not be afraid to keep trying. Refer to yourself as you would a good friend and encourage repeat attempts and new ways to create even better habits.
Not sure where to start or what to try? A great way to begin is to create a Joy List. Take a few minutes today…right now if you can…to start a list of things (both requiring money and free) that delight your body, mind, and spirit.
However you decide to start, I encourage you to simply start. Your future self will thank you.
About the STOP SAYING SHOULD SERIES
In the Stop Saying Should Series, I’m focusing on a list of 7 items that sabotage our happiness and productivity. These are things like saying “should” and comparing ourselves and our lives to others, as well as skipping the self-care and assuming what others think. The full collection can be found in this free inspiration sheet, but I believe each one deserves its own spotlight, so I’m dedicating this series to that.
Through my own development and my experiences with clients, I’ve found negative self-talk to be a mindset killer. Even for those who are positive and determined, how they treat themselves and perceive things can be a silent threat that sabotages all they are trying to do. That is why I wrote “Stop Saying Should” and how the list flowed freely from me. It started with that simple, but potent, phrase.
- Stop Saying Should Series Part 5: It’s Your Story, Make It A Good One
- Stop Saying Should Series Part 4: Assumption Junction What’s Your Function
- Stop Saying Should Series Part 3: Compare and Despair, Don’t Go There
- Stop Saying Should Series Part 2 of 8: Skip the Should, Find Your Why
- Stop Saying Should Part 1: Mental Decluttering and Mindset Shift